Extras, The
Hong Kong 1998
Directed by Alfred Cheung.

Written, directed, produced, and starring Alfred Cheung, trying to be the Hong Kong Woody Allen but not succeeding, in this story about Koo, a quiet loser who just wants to have a career as an extra.

Koo is an insurance adjuster whose job is to visit the comatose and vegetative in hospitals and try to revive them so that the company does not have to pay as much out in settlement. His boss (Law Kar-Ying) also has him spy on the rest of the office for him, making neither of them well liked. Eventually everyone winds up unemployed, including Koo's best friend (Francis Ng, barely awake for the role), and the woman who runs the extras agency (Law Koon-Lan).

THE EXTRA tries to be a politically relevant film, saying something about the difficulties of ordinary people during times of crisis (such as the East Asian financial crisis that hit Hong Kong on the year of the film's release). And a few of the jokes are at the expense of the Chief Executive. But the jokes are few and far between and far too cautious to be really funny.

The slow pacing and lack of really strong humor are the two factors that make this film completely forgettable and not worth spending the time to watch, in spite of the star cameos by Francis Ng, Lee Siu-Kei, Almen Wong, and others. The film unrolls as a series of vignettes, mostly centered around Koo's obsession with being an extra and his method acting techniques. But the set ups are too long and the jokes fall flat. The pacing is reminiscent of Hui Brothers comedies from the 70s, not the faster paced Stephen Chow comedies of the 90s.

Rating: Not Recommended (Not Recommended)

Posted by Peter Nepstad on March 09, 2007.


That's ALFRED Cheung! ;)

You're right, though, it's not a very good movie. Cheung's done far better work.

Posted by: Brian Thibodeau at April 1, 2007 06:16 PM

Oops! Would you believe I was going to make a comment about Albert Brooks, as well, and then a few neurons misfired. Thanks much, and entry fixed.

Posted by: PTN at April 16, 2007 12:29 AM
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